Follow-up Communication Regarding January 11 OCS Board of Education Meeting

As a follow-up to the January 11th OCS Board Meeting and in response to some questions from staff and families, Board Chair Hillary MacKenzie, Vice Chair Brenda Stephens, and Superintendent Dr. Monique Felder developed the following summary to provide additional clarity based on the approved motion made at the January 11th meeting regarding a delay to the return to Plan B (in-person instruction) for some students.

On January 11th, the Board of Education voted to delay the return of students in grades 2–12 to in-person instruction until at least the end of the third grading quarter, which ends on March 26 (March 25 for year-round students at Hillsborough Elementary). Also, the Board decided to delay the return of grades Kindergarten and first grade students to in-person instruction until three additional safety measures can be implemented. The three additional measures are: 1) the purchase and installation of air purifiers in each classroom being used; 2) a plan for student meals to not be eaten in the classroom; and, 3) a program of regular COVID-19 antigen testing in each school building. OCS will participate in the NC Department of Health and Human Services’ (NC DHHS) COVID-19 antigen rapid testing program (link to program details). OCS is working closely with NC DHHS and Orange County Health Department to determine the details of this program. As soon as details are available, they will be shared with OCS staff and families. Currently, 17 school districts and 11 charter schools in NC are participating in the antigen testing program.

OCS administration is developing plans for implementing each of the three additional safety measures and will provide an update to the Board at a special called meeting that will take place on Wednesday, January 20th at 5:00 p.m. Additional meeting information will be shared on the OCS website (link to OCS Board website).

Orientation for Kindergarten students whose families opted for Plan B (in-person instruction) for Cohort A took place yesterday and today as scheduled (link to photos); orientation for Kindergarten Cohort B will take place next week as planned. The January 25th start date for the return of in-person instruction for Kindergarten and first grade students is temporarily postponed and an updated return date will be shared as soon as the Board is updated on the three additional measures they’ve requested for in-person instruction to begin for these students at their January 11th meeting. In the meantime, Kindergarten and first grade students will continue with remote instruction.

The Board did not change current services and instruction currently being provided in-person at schools for EC separate settings students, Preschool students, Supervised Learning Labs, and small groups of students offered at various schools.